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Counsellor Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

A Counsellor uses counselling training and methods to assist individuals with emotional, mental or personality issues. Counsellors are responsible for listening to patient concerns and problems, developing a treatment plan and aiding the patient with coping strategies. Counsellors are usually employed at mental health facilities, schools, and hospitals.

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What does a Counsellor do?

The duties of a Counsellor may vary according to the type of facility as well as the Counsellor’s area of expertise, but they are generally qualified individuals who provide support and treatment options to patients with mental health issues. Counsellors help patients develop coping strategies to address their mental health needs and guide them through treatments. Counsellors also need to listen to patients, ask questions to analyze their mental health, and develop an effective and appropriate treatment strategy to help patients improve their lives.

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Counsellor duties and responsibilities

Counsellors have numerous responsibilities in helping patients with mental health issues. Depending on the type of facility they work in and the patients they treat, a Counsellor’s responsibilities may include:

  • Assessing a patient’s mental health through interviews and conversations
  • Using appropriate testing and evaluation methods to assess patients
  • Developing and implementing a treatment plan, which may include therapeutic medications, counseling sessions, or other types of mental health care
  • Diagnosing a patient’s mental and emotional issues
  • Working closely with patients to develop a favorable treatment plan and goals
  • Adjusting the treatment plan to find ways for method and patient improvement
  • Educating the patient on coping strategies or stress-management techniques to handle stressful life situations
  • Keeping records of the patient’s treatment plan and progress

Counsellor skills and qualifications

Counsellors are qualified individuals who are trained in the assessment and treatment of mental health issues. Most Counsellor positions require field experience and soft skills such as:

  • Oral and written communication
  • Organizational skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Adaptability to different tasks
  • Knowledge of diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders
  • Patience and empathy
  • Confidence and trustworthiness
  • Knowledge of current developments and research in mental health
  • Flexibility to work both in a team and individually

Counsellor experience requirements

For most Counsellor positions, employers require a minimum of 2 years of experience working as a professional Counsellor and a proven ability to develop effective and appropriate treatment plans. This experience may come from internships or the supervised clinical experience that occurs during education and licensing. In some cases, a combination of educational experience, clinical experience, and internship experience is desirable.

Counsellor education and training requirements

The education and training requirements for a Counsellor vary by location and program. Counsellors in Canada require Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) certification through the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. For certification, Counsellors must hold a master’s degree in counselling or a related professional field, specific coursework, direct practice, supervision and a clear criminal record background check.

Counsellor salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Counsellor is $24.80 per hour. Keep in mind that may be dependent on the relevant experience, location, education level and company.

Job description samples for similar positions

If a Counsellor isn’t the position you’re looking for, other job description samples are available for related or similar job positions, including:

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Counsellor job description FAQs

What is the difference between a Counsellor and a Psychologist?

Counsellors and Psychologists both address mental health concerns with patients, but their educational requirements and qualifications are different. Counselling most often focuses on holistic treatment for overall mental health, while psychology focuses on in-depth treatment of specific and severe mental health disorders. In many cases, a Counsellor is working under the supervision of a licensed Psychologist, unless they hold a doctorate themselves. Psychology masters programs also focus more on research and analysis than counselling programs.

What should an employer look for in a Counsellor?

In addition to educational and experience requirements, Counsellors should demonstrate several desirable skills that are appropriate for patient comfort and well-being. Counsellors should be non-judgmental, introspective, empathetic, compassionate, and disarming. These traits ensure that patients feel comfortable and relaxed in addressing their issues with the Counsellor, and would continue moving forward with their treatment plans.

Is a doctorate necessary for a Counsellor?

Most Counsellors hold a bachelor or master’s degree in counselling or a related field, as well as related certifications or licenses. While a doctorate is not required for a Counsellor, without one, a Psychologist or other advanced mental health professional must supervise Counsellors and their treatment plans. If Counsellors hold a doctorate, they can practice unsupervised and develop plans on their own or with the help of a team, if applicable.

Job Description Examples

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